Leadership Interviews: David Opati Aswani
This month we are glad to interview David Opati Aswani. He is at his second term as the Events Department Coordinator, the department in Joomla that works with Joomlers across the globe to spread the word about the project through local events, groups, activities, seminars and much more.
The Events Department is the "connection" between the "global community" and the "local communities" and supports event and JUG organizers to be successful and reinforce the Joomla Community and Project.
1: Thanks, David, for joining us in this interview. Could you tell us a little more about yourself? (where are you from, where do you live, family, your background, anything you want to share with us)
My name is David Aswani, I live and work in Nairobi, Kenya, with my wife Naomi and our two dogs Cici and Tammy. So in the house it's always me against the girls. My background is in design and media, but since 2010 I began my journey in IT which led me to Joomla. I have been volunteering to the project for 10 years now, as a Joomla Day organizer, JUG Nairobi, Joomla Events Team Member since 2015 and now Events DC. Being a Joomler has opened many doors for me: doors of work, travel opportunities, of friendship and of a community to belong.
2: You are in your second term in the position, but why did you decide to run for the Events DC position?
To be honest, first my team, which at that time was not as big as it is today, encouraged me to run. It was easy for me to buy into the idea, but how I structure my next one year at the board, that was difficult. But, the team believed in me, and I felt their support and I could not let them down. And most importantly, the people that need to take up positions at the board are the volunteers within Joomla Project, and here I was, and so it's safe to say I took one for the team.
OSM board is a good place, I mean, it is not perfect, but it's the place where all Joomlers should strive to be. You learn a lot by being part of it.
3: How do you see the role of the Events Department Coordinator in Joomla?
Joomla is community based, the fabric that builds what we have, which in turn builds software that powers almost 3% of all the websites in the world. The Events Team is at the core of that community, we connect Joomlers to each other through the management of the Events. We help them build small communities in their town and big communities in their cities. Vibrant one for that matter. We encourage knowledge sharing and full expression of talent.We encourage people learning best Joomla practice to thrive at work or in what they are using Joomla for. We enable physical contact, something that has been really elusive during the times of Corona. But all in all, the community of Joomla is in the events like JUG, JoomlaDays, pizza, bugs and fun, JWC, Joomla festivals and Joomla nights.
Nothing replaces human connection.
4: What is the major achievement of your first term as DC?
During my first year as DC, we managed to create some very powerful and vibrant teams for Events and for the Jug team. The teams I took over when I became DC fell apart within a few months after I became DC, but with the help of some key people within the community, we managed to create new teams with a global representation.
We also adjusted to work within the challenging times we were facing globally. We had a virus and in person events were basically not possible. It was inevitable that we shift the community towards virtual events which saw the birth of events like JoomlaDay USA, a virtual event that was a great success. Several Joomla User Groups pivoted well, running Virtual User Groups regularly since the start of the pandemic. They’re now attracting in some cases both a stronger local audience as well as international viewers where time zones align.
We also managed to secure a budget that will guide us for the future coming out of a pandemic for 2021/2022. This will help in making sure that, when in person events are back, we are able to support at least some of them, if not all, with their financial needs.
With the leadership of the Events Team, we are in the final stages of migrating from Sobipro to DP Calendar for the Events Portal, with the JUG portal that is running on DP Calendar.
5. Which will be the major challenges you want to tackle during your second term?
In 2021/22, we would like to welcome back the in-person events, with plans to support at least 10 JoomlaDay events. The department will also be encouraging virtual events to accommodate those who are not yet ready for offline events.
We are also making JUGs more engaging and popular. Already we made it possible for the community to have Virtual JUGs, I believe this will help in fostering more engagements within the community.
Pizza Bugs and Fun has been one of those successful events within the community and we intend to make it bigger and better.
The new official domains: joomladay.online, Joomla.events, joomladay.org and Joomla.group will become an essential tool that will help in making sure that we are supporting the Event’s organizers while protecting the intellectual properties of the project.
6: Is there anything we forgot to ask but should have asked you?
What part of the human face is your favorite? The mouth, it can talk, eat, and smile, and it can do it all at the same time.